Emerging studies of treating spinal cord injury (SCI) with adult stem cells led us to evaluate the effects of transplantation of hair follicle stem cells in rats with a compression-induced spinal cord lesion. Here, we proposed a hypothesis that rat hair follicle stem cell transplantation can promote the recovery of injured spinal cord. Compression-induced spinal cord injury was induced in Wistar rats in this study. The bulge area of the rat vibrissa follicles was isolated, cultivated and characterized with nestin as a stem cell marker. 5-Bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) labeled bulge stem cells were transplanted into rats with spinal cord injury. Immunohistochemical staining results showed that some of the grafted cells could survive and differentiate into oligodendrocytes (receptor-interacting protein positive cells) and neuronal-like cells (βIII-tubulin positive cells) at 3 weeks after transplantation. In addition, recovery of hind limb locomotor function in spinal cord injury rats at 8 weeks following cell transplantation was assessed using the Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan (BBB) locomotor rating scale. The results demonstrate that the grafted hair follicle stem cells can survive for a long time period in vivo and differentiate into neuronal- and glial-like cells. These results suggest that hair follicle stem cells can promote the recovery of spinal cord injury.
Keywords: cell therapy; cell transplantation; glial cells; grants-supported paper; hair follicle stem cells; nerve cells; neural regeneration; neuroregeneration; oligodendrocytes; receptor-interacting protein; spinal cord injury.